I’d be terrible at selling boats. I mean, I’d be terrible at selling most anything, but I feel like I’d find a way to somehow be even more terrible at selling boats.
That’s not to say I don’t like boats. I’m from Fort Lauderdale. It’s possible to be from here and not enjoy boats, I guess. I’m sure Kansas City has vegans too, but I can’t imagine it’s easy.
But enjoying something and understanding it are two different things. I understand the basics of boating – fundamentals like “Only rookies and New Yorkers back the trailer all the way into the water” or “Keep a few of the big Flanigan’s cups handy in case the bilge pump goes and you need to start bailing.” But beyond that, I’m completely clueless. If I tried to sell you a boat, I could tell you what color it is and that it looks to me like it probably floats. I couldn’t tell you what kind of engine it has, but I could probably figure out whether or not it has an engine. I can tell a motorboat from a canoe, is what I’m saying.
But if I’m not a boat sales expert, I know people who are. In fact, I spoke to some of them for this issue. I look forward to our boating and yachting issue every year because it’s when we get to explore an industry that’s massively important to Fort Lauderdale and supplies our city with, among other things, thousands of well-paid, skilled craftsman jobs.
The boating industry is also one of those like the RV industry and the labyrinth-making industry that’s done big business during the pandemic. (You can Google the labyrinth one if you don’t believe me; maze-makers are doing a booming trade right now.) This seems to be down to the simple fact that a boat is a pretty darn good way to get out and have fun while social distancing.
The boating industry professionals I talked to are pleased to see how this is going, particularly as there was some understandable panic in March and April. They also want to keep the momentum going – and to do that, they think the boating industry needs to work on how it markets itself.
The general idea goes like this: the boating industry needs to attract younger boat-buyers, and those potential boat-buyers are less interested in stuff, more interested in experiences. They don’t want to hear about horsepower or, uhhh, hull displacement (see, I’d be terrible at this), they want to hear about what they’ll do. About the on-the-water lifestyle. About all the fun you can have with a boat.
Writing the story left me feeling confident about the boating industry because really, all it has to do is sell what Fort Lauderdale people already know. It’s a healthy, fun, family-friendly way of getting into the outdoors, with lots of different price-points and entry levels. Fort Lauderdale’s economy depends on boating, and Fort Lauderdale is also a case-study for why boating is great. If I attempted to sell boats, that’s how I’d sell them.
I’d also throw in a couple Flanigan’s cups for free.